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Lessons from the garden

April 16, 2009

‘Tis the season, as they say.

If you weren’t with us this time last year, let me bring you up to speed: I love my yard. My mom is an avid gardener and my dad’s been in landscaping for almost as long as I can remember. You should see their yard. Eden. Seriously. Dirt is in my blood – in a way.

Last summer was my first ever with my very own yard, and I learned that God is just as crazy as I am about gardening. Not only do all of Jesus’ parables about gardening – and the Old Testament stories that happen in gardens – suddenly make so much more sense, but the metaphors are rich.

And, if you’re willing, God speaks. God can speak to you anywhere, but something about gardening makes me pause long enough to hear Him. Something about being outside, kneeling in dirt, tending to something so quiet is a recipe for Holy Spirit to break through.

Maybe it’s just doing something that you and God both enjoy. Maybe for you it’s not gardening; maybe it’s painting or plumbing. God speaks to me through dirt, so I’m sharing. If he speaks to you through dry wall, start a blog and pimp yourself in the comments.

This week’s lesson actually comes from the end table, where the seeds are starting to sprout.

A friend recently sighed as she explained she’s in a season where she feels like nothing’s happening. She compared herself to a salt shaker, just sitting on a shelf somewhere.

A group of us had gotten together for prayer, and as someone else started praying over her, I suddenly saw my little end table covered with pots of dirt. It was like the Lord was reminding me that inanimate objects aren’t the only things that sit on shelves.

And I started thinking about those seeds. They’ve been seeds their entire existence, and they’ve been the star of the show. They were the center of attention as they were harvested, tested, weighed, packaged, advertised, ordered, and shipped. Everyone wanted seeds.

Now, though, I don’t want seeds. I want plants.

So the seeds are changing. And in the interim, they’re out of sight and un-exciting. Relatively few people are mindful of them (only me, really), and everyone else who glances their way doesn’t even really see them. They see pots of dirt.

But the interim is necessary. It’s boring, and potentially discouraging, but necessary. While people turn their attention and praises elsewhere for the time, the gardener knows what’s coming for those seeds. And the interim is necessary. Those seeds need enough moisture to crack their shells, enough nutrients to set a deep first root, and enough light to inspire a push upward.

The difference between most fruit-bearing plants and weeds, is that the former set a strong root before they sprout into the light – and even when they do sprout, they send up a small stem before unfolding leaves. Weeds shoot up leaves to soak in the sunshine without much root, which is why they don’t get very tall very fast and why they’re easier to pull up when they’re small.

So if you’re feeling shelved, you’re not forgotten. Maybe you’re in the interim. If other people start looking elsewhere, let them. The Gardener has plans for you, and whatever it is – you need a strong root before you go there.

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